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Miscanthus biomass heat project in Moldova officially launched

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On 23 February, the first biomass thermal power plant using UK agri-tech was officially opened in Moldova’s capital.

The launch of the newly-installed 150 kW biomass thermal power plant – a project pilot - in Chisinau marked the start of the transition of the energy supply system from imported fossil gas to renewable energy.

The project aims to switch the Centralised Thermal Energy Supply system to renewable technology, expanding rapidly with another 19 heat-only boiler plants in the pipeline.

The initiative is joint-funded by the National Agency for Research and Development and Termoelectrica, run in collaboration with UK-based Miscanthus specialist, Terravesta, and IBERS Aberystwyth University, and implemented by the Moldovan Institute of Genetics, Physiology, and Plant Protection.

The 19 heat-only boiler plants will run on unique Miscanthus hybrids from Terravesta, to be established locally in Moldova as a dedicated crop in support of the project. This sustainable biomass fuel will generate 55,000 MWh per year, each with a 1-2.5 MW capacity, providing heating to 5,500 flats, 110 houses, 40 businesses, 12 public kindergartens, 25 education facilities, and eight medical institutions.

Veaceslav Eni, CEO of Termoelectrica, a major energy supplier in Moldova, said: “This unique technology transfer project in Moldova is very important for us and represents an example that we intend to reproduce on a large scale in Chisinau, opening up new local opportunities related to the production of clean energy produced from biomass, with substantial contribution to reducing CO2 emissions.”

Terravesta supplies power stations with 50,000 tonnes of Miscanthus annually and provided the knowledge base and Miscanthus hybrids for this project.

“Moldova is increasing its energy security, and this is one of the country’s most innovative projects to date,” said Anatolii Sandu, Terravesta’s research and development representative in south-east Europe and CIS countries.

“This initiative will create new jobs, address fuel poverty inequalities, and benefit the environment. Miscanthus sequesters carbon while it grows and it has a positive impact on soil health, biodiversity, and it is profitable for farmers.”

The British Embassy in Chisinau has supported several projects to promote the development of the Moldovan private sector, including this example.

Steven Fisher, ambassador to Moldova, who participated in the official plant opening, said: “The UK supports Moldova’s efforts to drive ambition on product energy efficiency standards to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and energy demand, promote UK business innovation such as this project, and ensure consumer access to affordable and high performing technologies.

“The UK is hosting the COP26 World Leader’s Summit in November this year in Glasgow. Negotiators, politicians, and civil society will come together to discuss five key areas: adaptation and resilience, finance, nature-based solutions, zero-emissions vehicles, and energy transition. This project is a great example that cuts across some of these topics and shows that people and nature can benefit from innovative change.”